Surgically-Implanted Magnets Provide New Listening Opportunities
What’s the Latest Development?
Entrepreneur Rich Lee saw a DIY invisible headphones tutorial on the Instructables Web site and decided to take it one major step further: Instead of wearing tiny (and removable) magnets inside the canal like regular earbuds, he had his surgically implanted into the tragus, which is the part of the ear that projects itself in front of the canal. Combined with a coil necklace and an attached amplifier, the magnets allow him to hear audio from an MP3 player. However, that’s just for starters: Lee hopes to connect his system to an ultrasonic rangefinder to make his hearing more like that of a bat.
What’s the Big Idea?
Lee is one of a growing number of people — “grinders” — who are combining the latest technology with surgery to give them enhanced sensory capabilities that are literally built in. For some, it may be just another way to set themselves off from the crowd, but in addition to “self-augmentation and enhancement” Lee has a very practical reason for wanting improved hearing: He has lost most of the sight in his right eye and is in danger of losing the sight in his left. “I figure learning to navigate with echolocation is a good thing to develop now. Not that I’ve resigned myself to blindness or anything.”
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